This article was originally published on Kilden - Information and news about gender research in Norway. Read the original article.
In the social media, women share their experiences with sexual harassment, bullying and abuse.
Both in Norway and internationally, women from industry after industry have gathered together and approached the media in order to demonstrate that sexual harassment occurs in their workplace.
Actresses, musicians, journalists and researchers were among the first to emphasise the magnitude of the problem. She is not surprised by the most obvious from the metoo campaign, namely that many people never talk about the harassment they are exposed to.
Very few cases reach the courts of law. They have looked at cases from various sectors. There are several male dominated sectors, but few cases from heavily male dominated industries such as building and construction.
A major part of the cases is from the health sector. Here, the problem is divided:. But colleagues and leaders also harass. Actors and singers, for instance, who were among the first to take part in the metoo campaign.
According to Borchorst, the most severe cases are the ones that reach the courts of law. But many cases, even some of the more severe harassment cases, end in extrajudicial settlements instead.
It is as with rape cases, they have to prepare for their lives to be turned upside-down. To Borchorst there is no doubt that the cases they have studied are only the top of the iceberg.
She is thankful to the metoo campaign for helping them explain this. It is hard to explain the amount of guilt and shame involved in this. In many of the cases, the harassment starts after a relationship with a colleague or a superior has ended.
Or it may start after a female employee becomes single. The people who harass are those who have been longer in the workplace or those who have power, it lies in the hierarchy at work. The secretary goes away on business, and when she arrives at her hotel she realises that only one room has been reserved.
What characterises several cases is that it happens in places where the harasser may be alone with the victim. But we also have cases from larger work places.
In almost every case the women are either fired or they choose to resign
Old man gets sexually harassed by female colleagues. Some people are of the opinion that young women are more exposed, and according to Borchorst, uncertain working conditions may be decisive.
But they may also be completely dependent on their employer. Although it is obvious that it is the men who have crossed the "Old man gets sexually harassed by female colleagues," the women take much of the blame. We see that it often escalates and becomes too much.
We also hear that those who notify harassment are met with reprisals. Among the cases studied by the researchers, 55 are work injury cases.
These are the cases that are most likely to win in the courts of law. You need to have been deprived of your ability to work. She thinks it is important to look at the consequences of the harassment in a socio-economical perspective.
We have to consider this a problem for the entire workplace culture and for society as such, not just for the individual. Both in Norway and Denmark, men have partaken in the public debate claiming that metoo does not take sexual harassment of men seriously. According to her, there are many indications that men are also affected by sexual harassment, and in the cases they have studied it is particularly gay men who both harass and are harassed.
Anette Borchorst emphasises that men do not harass because of sexual attraction, they do it "Old man gets sexually harassed by female colleagues" demonstrate power. Nevertheless, in the court of law it is word against word. When the harasser is a colleague or a superior, they almost always admit that something has happened, but that it was mutual.
When the researchers coded their material, they also found that the cases were particularly difficult if there was a highly sexualised tone in the workplace. If the tone is very sexualised, the women tend to lose. Should this one person be removed? Or should everybody else adjust to her wishes? Although we may have different limits for what it is Old man gets sexually harassed by female colleagues to talk about in the workplace, Borchorst is of the opinion that the limit is not as blurred as some of the participants in the debate say it is.
This is not about a hand on the knee or a hug. It helps the case if seven other women can say that they have experienced harassment from the same man. Nobody answered there and then, but afterwards she received phone calls from seventeen people. According to her, we have to look at the hierarchy of heteronormality — the expectation that everybody is heterosexual.
She thinks this is the reason why direct harassment is only the top of the iceberg, and says that the hierarchy involved in heterosexual flirting and aesthetics should be made visible and discussed. They need to learn that this is not only about abstaining from direct harassment and violations, but also that more subtle sexualising and jesting undermining based on gender is out of the question. The prevention of sexual harassment has to do with knowledge.
But leaders and legislators need to understand more. They also have to acquire knowledge that takes time to read and comprehend.
That is the way it is with everything that really matters. This needs to be studied and developed collectively within the individual organisations.